Dr. Septimus 'Clodagh' Phut is currently on a world tour with his secretary Heidi Sallasse prior to writing his new novel 'The Occidental Traveller' (published by Phutpress INC.) Not wishing to forgo his weekly column, however, Heidi has kindly e-mailed this article from their latest base-camp.
This Week's Scourge: Mycobacterium Leprae - Leprosy
Ah, Leviticus (14: 33-38), how we do shun the unfortunates! The urgent need to define the outsider, the 'other', is absolutely imperative to one's psychological well-being and thus, with lips pursed, we do resound 'unclean'! This ritual expulsion allows us to rally together and surge forward refreshed.
But what is this dreadful malady and, amazingly, why can it be manifested in wealthier parts of the world in the twenty-first century?
Bacterial leprosy will destroy the lips and larynx. This eating-away at one's means of communication allows for stronger types, more immune because of sturdier resources and canny genes, to feel repulsion and horror at the malodorous specimen that has lost his vital parts. Quite so. Stigmatising the ashen individual or community may actually help them to realise that more than penicillin will be needed to extricate them from this shameful situation. Yes, my friends, Leprosy is quite curable to those whose lips and voice box have hitherto sounded forth calumny only to find the ensuing bacteria responsible for the most serious malfunction - a tightening of the jawline that results in restricted vocabulary, which sadly will eventuate in complete muteness as the infection closes in on the brain - Cerebellum Detrimitium Occidentalis. So, Lepers, pull yourselves together or, as my wife Felicia often chastises late at night, 'Wash your mouth out with soap and water, Septimus!' ha!, ha! Rather than indulge such a malady, it is the scrofulous host that must needs be eradicated. Find your boil, lance it, and humankind will be saved.
The Leper's rattling clapper has sounded across the world of late, and the long stick for alms can barely stretch across the Atlantic. 'His touch is death!' laments the world, and the fusion of hands and feet forms an eagle's claw that snatches desperately for aid - oils - that may be poured on the troubled waters of a blighted land. Enlightened thinkers now believe that it might be this very desire to rub such emollients on the beleaguered limbs of the nation is in itself highly contagious, causing gross deformity as the oils seize up their extremities, resulting in widespread slack-jawed drawl, or Dementia Vegitalis Moribundii. Because of this contagion, a whole continent is now, sadly, becoming cut off from polite society. But help is at hand and foot.
The Knights of Saint Lazare, an independent, fraternal missionary group, is trying to free the far West from the ravages of this pestilential scourge through its continued application of détente, which, they believe, can gradually loosen the jaw and set into motion recuperative enzymes that can have a regenerative effect. As the foul breath of the west wind blows across the ocean, and innocents cry 'Stand to the leeward!', let us hope that these missionaries might bring succour. Time, however, is of the essence. The incubation period for this most grotesque of afflictions is four years but a second term can prove disastrous though the pustules will eventually dry out. Good Luck!